Title

Shrinking Spaces and Occupational Options: The Experiences of Older Adults With Low Vision Living in Urban and Rural Settings

Start Time

7-10-2006 10:15 AM

End Time

7-10-2006 12:00 PM

Abstract

Older adults are the fastest growing segment of individuals with visual impairments in industrialized countries. Among the older adult population, low vision, that is a degree of vision impairment that cannot be corrected with standard eyeglasses, becomes more prevalent and is more likely to be untreated with increasing age. Although previous research suggests low vision negatively impacts on older adults’ quality of life, health status and activities of daily living, there has been little research focused on understanding older adults’ perspectives of vision loss in terms of how occupations are experienced and managed. Results from a phenomenological study examining the experience of 40 adults aged 70 and older who have low vision and who have not accessed specialized low vision services will be presented. The following research questions will be address: how is occupation experienced by older adults with low vision; how do older adults adapt their occupations as their vision deteriorates; and how do older adults describe their experiences of occupational change and adaptation? Data was collected through the use of two semi-structured qualitative interviews per informant, with 20 informants residing in urban settings and 20 residing in rural settings. Findings derived from inductive analysis involving analysts from four different disciplinary backgrounds relate to four major inter-related aspects of the experience of living with low vision: shrinking physical and social life space; shrinking occupational options and competence; letting go or adapting occupation; and shifting outlooks on vision and occupational changes. Findings highlight the impact of low vision on basic occupations, such as reading and community mobility, which, in turn, impacts on participation in more complex occupations. As well, it was apparent that despite employing a range of adaptive strategies to accomplish necessary occupations, informants had given up participation in many personally important occupations, particularly those occurring outside the home environment, and had resigned themselves to these losses. Implications for our understanding of occupational adaptation and contemporary stress on independence and an individualized conceptualization of occupational adaptation will be discussed.

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Oct 7th, 10:15 AM Oct 7th, 12:00 PM

Shrinking Spaces and Occupational Options: The Experiences of Older Adults With Low Vision Living in Urban and Rural Settings

Older adults are the fastest growing segment of individuals with visual impairments in industrialized countries. Among the older adult population, low vision, that is a degree of vision impairment that cannot be corrected with standard eyeglasses, becomes more prevalent and is more likely to be untreated with increasing age. Although previous research suggests low vision negatively impacts on older adults’ quality of life, health status and activities of daily living, there has been little research focused on understanding older adults’ perspectives of vision loss in terms of how occupations are experienced and managed. Results from a phenomenological study examining the experience of 40 adults aged 70 and older who have low vision and who have not accessed specialized low vision services will be presented. The following research questions will be address: how is occupation experienced by older adults with low vision; how do older adults adapt their occupations as their vision deteriorates; and how do older adults describe their experiences of occupational change and adaptation? Data was collected through the use of two semi-structured qualitative interviews per informant, with 20 informants residing in urban settings and 20 residing in rural settings. Findings derived from inductive analysis involving analysts from four different disciplinary backgrounds relate to four major inter-related aspects of the experience of living with low vision: shrinking physical and social life space; shrinking occupational options and competence; letting go or adapting occupation; and shifting outlooks on vision and occupational changes. Findings highlight the impact of low vision on basic occupations, such as reading and community mobility, which, in turn, impacts on participation in more complex occupations. As well, it was apparent that despite employing a range of adaptive strategies to accomplish necessary occupations, informants had given up participation in many personally important occupations, particularly those occurring outside the home environment, and had resigned themselves to these losses. Implications for our understanding of occupational adaptation and contemporary stress on independence and an individualized conceptualization of occupational adaptation will be discussed.